By Kay Heitkamp, Two Rivers Tribune
HOOPA, CA - Prospective sales representatives for modular homes and offices constructed by Xontah Builders (XB) were introduced to concepts of marketing and sales at a workshop held on Dec. 4 at the plant. The session was presented by Scott Marcus in conjunction with the Northern California Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Eureka working in tandem with XB.
XB CEO Loren Norton has established an ongoing contractual agreement with SBDC to provide training and to help develop a new sales force team to market the company’s products.
“We don’t have a marketing and sales budget or a sales team yet. That’s why we’ve asked SBDC for help. This training is part of our effort to rebuild the company from the ground up. We came up with the concept of creating a sales staff of tribal members who have a vested interest in selling homes built right in their own area by tribal members,” said Norton.
Norton also commented that he had invited the Two Rivers Tribune to attend the workshop to keep the community informed about XB’s ongoing efforts to expand their market beyond the Klamath-Trinity area.
“Communication is key,” said Norton.
The workshop was conducted by Scott Marcus who kept things moving at a brisk and energetic pace during his Power Point presentation. The morning session of the workshop covered the basic concepts of marketing. Attendees followed along with handouts and were encouraged to ask questions and participate in discussions.
Marcus opened his presentation by stating, “Nothing is more important than knowing your customer. The first part of sale work is marketing. The number one rule to know about marketing is that people don’t buy what they need – they buy what they want and back up their decision with logic. It’s all about feelings.”
Marcus emphasized the importance of inspiring customers’ feelings and of making them want to do business with XB. He urged the prospective sales team members to put themselves in the place of the customers.
“Talk to their feelings,” Marcus said, adding that it’s important to make the customer feel that they’re investing in a safe place for their family, that’s not too expensive, where they can come home and feel a sense of pride that they own a part of the community. The message was clear- inspiring these kinds of feelings will make a client want to be part of the Xontah experience.
“You need to be proud of what you’re a part of and know that people make their decisions based on dreams,” Marcus said.
He also emphasized the importance of self-promotion, reminding class participants that if they don’t put the word out about who they are and what they represent, no one else will. Marcus defined marketing as anything you do to drive business to your business, including promotion, advertising, and word of mouth.
“It’s all about breaking down barriers,” said Marcus. “Customers don’t want to be marketed to. If you’re going out into the community to market modular homes, you’ll need to overcome the barriers people put up when resisting the sales approach. Your marketing materials should speak the customer’s language, appeal to their dreams, lower their walls of resistance, and earn their trust.”
Initial Marketing and Sales Workshop at Xontah Builders in Hoopa on Dec. 4. Scott Marcus (right), in association with the North Coast Small Business Development Center in Eureka, gave the one-half day presentation. / Photo by Kay Heitkamp, Two Rivers Tribune.
The presentation continued with a list of rules for successful marketing that included a warning not to provide too much information during initial discussions with prospective clients.
“A confused mind never buys,” said Marcus, who stated that it was always tempting to present customers with too many facts and statistics. “It’s a balancing act. You should give them just what they need to make an informed decision.”
Other marketing strategies include explaining to a customer the advantages of buying a modular home, being passionate about the products and services that are provided, and making the customer feel good about buying locally.
“Sell the concept that Xontah builds dreams,” said Marcus. “Make the customer want to be a part of that dream.”
Marcus also covered promotional ideas for sales team members such as advertising through different forms of media, networking, and websites. He suggested that the website, www.wordle.net, can be used when developing effective sales materials.
After a brief break for lunch provided by Xontah Builders, Marcus continued with the sales portion of the workshop. Discussion centered around learning about the demographics of nearby counties, potential growth patterns of housing developments, and needs assessments of families looking for homes.
“I have a lot of information about all these types of statistics that I’ll be sharing with sales team members,” Norton said.
Marcus suggested identifying areas of new housing and the types of customers who buy them.
“It’s up to those of you in sales to convince these potential customers that modular homes are the way to go, that competitive prices and buying locally matter, and that you can match what you’re selling to their needs,” said Marcus.
Marcus suggested role playing as an effective learning tool for sales team members to become comfortable with the concepts presented during the workshop.
“Try throwing customer objections at each other to learn how to handle them,” said Marcus. “You have to sell the idea that Xontah will improve the customer’s life. Remember, we don’t sell a product – we sell dreams. Back up this concept with facts and with the benefits (advantages)
Norton said he will schedule a brainstorming session in January during which the new sales team will get together to develop marketing and sales techniques. His goal is to begin a promotional sales program by March 1.
Marcus distributed written materials specifically developed for new sales persons including suggestions for organizing, following through, getting sales leads, making calls, and developing relationships with clients.
“Over time, you’ll spend a vast amount of your time in presentation. However, while you’re in the process of selling, you still have to keep building your client list and stay in touch with current customers while looking for new clients,” Marcus said.
In closing, Marcus urged attendees to keep thorough records to make sure they are meeting their goals. He handed out a form that he developed to track calls, appointments, follow up presentations, and sales that includes a formula for calculating the numbers of each that are needed to meet individual sales goals.
Participants left with their heads filled with all the information covered during the workshop and with a certainty that their efforts as a sales team will be closely supported by XB and the North Coast SBDC.
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A non-profit that provides workshops, business assistance, counseling, training and in-depth financial analysis for start-up and existing companies in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties on the North Coast of California.